Sugar Ain’t So Sweet

I love real food. I love the colors of vegetables. I love the smell of the farmer’s market. I love growing my own food and enjoying the sweet pleasure of savoring pure nutrients without chemicals. I love food so much that for the past 30 years, I didn’t exclude anything from my diet, especially if it was organic. I ate fruit from trees, organic cane sugar, wonderful delicious creamy organic cheese, imported Spanish chorizo sausages, organic artisan pastries, raw milk and glorious fruit smoothies with local honey. I thought eating clean meant eating everything organic. It never occurred to me that eating clean means eating certain “good foods” but not others.

Due to some health problems, I decided to cut out all sugar from my diet on March 31, 2014. Everyone thought I was insane and socially it sucked, but without even trying, I lost 20 pounds. Weight loss makes people pay attention and now a lot of people have asked me to write down what I eat. It’s complicated, so I decided to make a blog post instead. I also did that so I could hyperlink all the information so you can research yourself.

I wasn’t going to write anything about it because it is a personal decision that I made for private reasons. However, after talking with some friends who secretly confessed to having the same problems, I decided that I should be brave and tell my story publicly. If you’re as desperate as I was to get better, you might stumble across this and find relief from your pain. I am not a doctor or trained to give any medical advice. If you decide to do what I do, please be safe, research a lot about what you’re doing, read, educate yourself, be accountable for your own health and decision and as always, use common sense.

For some time, I have struggled with health problems that I suspected were related to food. I often felt tired, worn down and had daily headaches. I felt constantly bloated and had difficulty controlling my mood. I was frequently irritable and struggled with anxiety and depression. I also had itchy skin, rashes and acne all over my body as well as strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings. Thanks to a friend, I learned about Candida about 5 years ago.  She explained to me that most people had an overgrowth of it in their intestines.  She convinced me to do a Candida cleanse with her. The first time I did a Candida diet cleanse for a few weeks, it helped a lot with my problems, but I didn’t want to change my diet that drastically, so I stopped it.

Years went by and I continued to struggle with health problems. I’ve had tinea versicolor for as long as I can remember. We used to call them “sun spots”, because they’re white and come out in the sun. However, I know now that it’s not triggered by the sun. We notice it when we get some sun because we don’t tan on those areas. Tinea versicolor is a yeast infection on the back that prevents the skin from tanning. It makes my back super itchy.

I have also struggled with severe vulvodynia for the past two years. It basically feels like you have a painful, incurable yeast infection. The tests come back negative for absolutely everything and medicine doesn’t work. In fact, the medical community doesn’t even know what vulvodynia is. It’s basically the modern form of female hysteria. Since the doctors don’t know what it is, they assume it’s all in our heads. They tried to prescribe me anti-depressants and tell me to take baths and relax.

Both the gynecologist and the dermatologist told me that the conditions were not food related.

I googled “are tinea versicolor and vulvodynia related?” and got no results. By reading health forums for a few days, I came to my own conclusion that since both conditions were more or less related to yeast, it was only logical that there was some kind of overgrowth. I remembered the Candida diet from years back and finally decided to do it as strictly and seriously as I possibly could.

I had two basic goals: starve and kill the yeast.  I eliminated sugar and anything that processes like sugar to stop feeding yeast and I killed it with anti-fungal foods and supplements.

In a nutshell, this is what I do. I have no sugar, no dairy (except plain yogurt), no fermented products, no yeast, no soy, no tofu, no grains (wheat, oat, barley, corn, rice, quinoa, polenta, etc), no fruit (with some exceptions), no dry roasted nuts, no alcohol (except vodka/club soda/lime on special occasions), no starches or starchy vegetables (like root vegetables and carrots – except on occasion), no beans and no condiments (except apple cider vinegar, spices, olive oil and coconut oil).

Many experts say you should also eliminate all fungus like mushrooms, but I do not agree with that and eating mushrooms has helped me get rid of Candida. Eliminating them brought some symptoms back. Experiment with it yourself to see how it affects you. You can read about that here.

The diet is complicated because the human body is complicated. I think it’s important to understand some basic facts about food before you can begin to do the diet for yourself. When I eat foods that do not agree with me, now I can feel it in my whole body almost immediately (headache, nausea, irritability, anxiety, etc). It’s not even worth it to eat something off of my list because I get absolutely no pleasure out of it. For me, that’s why the diet is easy to stick to.

In order to fuel our bodies, we need sugar. Our bodies are equipped to make that sugar/energy out of fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. If we eat something sweet, our bodies give us a reward (dopamine release) so that we are encouraged to eat more sweet stuff. This is because the body wants to get its energy the fastest way possible – sugar is easy energy.  Since it is empty in nutrition, it leaves us feeling confused and grumpy. We have to monitor the nutrition that we intake because relying on our stomach to send “hungry” signals will keep us at the mercy of our hormones and have us constantly craving sugar. We think that insulin spikes, “2pm crashes”, after lunch sluggishness and mood swings are normal, but they’re not.  The excess sugar that we all consume allows yeast to overgrown in our intestines, killing the good bacteria that help us digest food, fight disease, etc.

When it’s all said and done, the body processes these things like sugar:

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Lactose products
  • Carbohydrates

Obviously you know the easy stuff – glucose and fructose are both sugars. Here is a list of all the names for sugar that I don’t eat. Vinegar is basically sugar, as is wine, alcohol, beer, etc. The exception is Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar, which for some reason makes the body more alkaline. All other vinegars make your body acidic, which is what Candida love. I don’t eat fake sugars like these because they are basically just chemicals. I don’t eat Stevia because (usually it’s not real) and if it is, it tricks my brain into thinking I’m about to have some simple sugars to digest. As far as I can tell, there are dangers associated with absolutely anything that tastes sweet. Period. Sorry but I didn’t invent chemistry and biology.

Soy and tofu are fermented products. Just like beer, they can feed Candida. All hormones and chemicals are just bad for you anyways, so I cut them out. They also say it contributes to making the body more acidic, which is what Candida like. There are tons of lists on the internet telling you what you can and cannot eat and why. 

“But what do you eat?”

I always just focus on getting my micro and macro nutrients in first and then usually by the time I’m done, the day is over and I’ve eaten enough food to not be hungry. It takes the emotion right out of it. By taking the emotion out of food, two things have happened: 1) I don’t get a dopamine release when I eat, so I don’t get a crash later. 2) I also hardly have mood swings anymore because I no longer have an emotional relationship with food. When I’m sad, I have to figure something else out to deal with it – no cheeseburgers, no Heineken. So I end up working out, laying out in the sun, going to yoga, doing pilates, working on the garden, taking a bath, etc. It’s an added benefit to the Candida relief!

Think about it like this. Get enough protein in, take vitamins/micronutrients, fill up with vegetables and the rest will fall into place. You’ll get enough fat by cooking things in olive oil, coconut oil and eating eggs, meat or full fat yogurt. Here is a list of foods I try to eat as much as possible of to fight the Candida.

My diet 

Protein choices

  • Organic eggs
  • Organic plain yogurt
  • Any hormone-free meat or seafood (only fresh stuff, not farm-raised).

Cheating foods

  • Beans (black, kidney, pinto, butter, red, etc)
  • Chickpeas (hummus)

Drink choices

When it comes to drinks, you’re going to have to suck it up. It took me a week to get used to coffee with no sugar in it. Your taste buds will adjust faster than your brain.

  • Decaf coffee
  • Caffeine free tea
  • Water
  • Unsweetened almond milk

Cheating drinks

  • Vodka
  • Club soda

Vegetables/Fiber/Grains

  • 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk
  • Organic, steamed, sautéed, or baked vegetables, especially salads, peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus and kale.
  • All vegetables are fine except potatoes and corn, which are high in carbohydrates.

Cheating vegetables/fiber/grains

  • Potatoes
  • Organic popcorn that I pop myself in coconut oil (no microwave)
  • Organic rice cakes

Fruit

  • Avocados
  • Lemons
  • Limes

Cheating fruits (eaten less than twice a month)

  • Papaya
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries

Nuts/Seeds

  • Raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios (no peanuts).
  • Raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Supplements 

You need to research each one carefully and add them one at a time – check with a doctor if you have specific health conditions. This is a routine I’ve developed over the last 10 years. I take one normal serving of each as recommended on the bottle every day. Click on the specific supplement to see the brand I buy and where I buy it from.

March 2014

March 2014

June 2014

June 2014

Weight Loss

I lost weight extremely fast doing this diet. I did not exercise regularly because I was nervous about the caloric deficit making me dizzy. I personally have trouble keeping the weight on these days (I never thought I’d see the day!). The things that help me stabilize my weight are adding potatoes and drinking alcohol more often. This does not help the Candida very much, but I can gain weight fast with alcohol and potatoes. I’m still working on maintaining the weight in a healthy way. There is no way I could eat like this without the DeKalb farmers market. It’s worth the drive if you don’t live close; bring a cooler. People come from Tennessee to go there, so no excuses. The veggies last 2 weeks cause they’re so fresh.

I make sure to have/do these five things every single day.

More Links:

http://www.dramymyers.com/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8376/10-signs-you-have-candida-overgrowth-what-to-do-about-it.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candida_(fungus)

http://candidapage.com/candiet.txt

http://www.detoxwithcolonics.com/the_candida_diet

http://www.candida-cure-recipes.com/candida-treatment.html

http://www.purehealingfoods.com/infoCandida.php

http://www.thecandidadiet.com/candida-fighting-foods.htm

 

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